As a literary genre, the sonnet originated in Italy and is associated with the name of Francis Petrarch (1304–1374). Petrarch was inspired by the first sight of a woman he referred to as “Laura,” whom he loved and worshipped from afar for a period of twenty years until her death in 1348 and for ten years after that. The poems Petrarch wrote describing his hopeless love for Laura inspired a vogue that lasted for centuries in Western poetry.
The characteristic Petrarchan sonnet consists of an octave (eight lines) in which the subject is described and developed, and a sestet...
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